Let's note upfront that hot dogs are delicious. In terms of what they're actually made of, sure — that's dicey. But the scrumptious factor isn't really up for debate. They're probably a food favorite for millions. So, it wasn't quite Senate hopeful Mitt Romney's fondness for hot dogs that had Twitter abuzz Friday; it was his rather strange grammatical phrasing.
If one prefers hot dogs above all, presumably a person would voice that by saying, "My favorite meat is a hot dog."
But what Romney said to a gathering of supporters in Utah was, "My favorite meat is hot dog." There was no "a," no article at all — just "hot dog." The Washington Examiner's David M. Drucker recorded Romney's declaration of love for hot dogs in a long piece detailing the former presidential candidate's current campaign in Utah. Just before the hot dog anecdote, Drucker wrote that Romney was "not a complicated person, with simple tastes that can seem out of place with a man worth hundreds of millions of dollars."
But for many on Twitter, what seemed out of place was the formulation of Romney's word choice. Vox's Dylan Matthews tweeted, "When I go to ballpark to view sport, what better refreshment than a fresh slab of hot dog."
Several other users on Twitter indicated that his bizarre articulation of being a hot dog fan reminded them of other attempts by Romney to appear relatable. In fact, striving to sound like the everyman emerged as a primary theme of Twitter commentary.
New York Magazine's Gabriella Paiella wrote, "When you're definitely not an alien skin suit, but a normal human person who eats food" above a linked article with the headline, "Mitt Romney: My favorite meat is hot dog."
Writer Karen Geier responded in the same vein, writing that "Mitt Romney hot dog quote is NOT CUTE like 'barbecue food.' It sounds like how an alien would describe a hot dog."
Jared Keller, senior editor of veterans' website Task & Purpose, related a story about Romney offering a local reporter a beer. When the reporter said sure, Keller said Romney gave him a bottle of alcohol-free O'Doul's. The former Republican candidate and his adult sons also seem to enjoy drinking plain milk. As explanation, Keller later notes the "relatively high Mormon population" in his hometown, which he says "made for a fantastic high school experience." (Mormons generally don't drink alcohol.)
BuzzFeed's Dorsey Shaw offered another throwback from the annals of Romney's political past. He wrote that his "favorite Mitt Romney Is Relatable moment of all time" was the politician's "struggle to identify a donut." The old CNN clip, which Shaw included, is definitely worth a watch.
Josh Billinson of Independent Journal Review asked "what's your favorite political GIF and why is it this one of Mitt Romney ironing a jacket while he wears it?"
Others wondered if Romney's strange wording indicated he actually doesn't know what hot dogs are. Splinter News' Katherine Krueger kept it brief, writing "Mitt Romney has never eaten a hot dog in his life."
Sportswriter David Roth argued it was an issue of confusion, that Romney believed "hot dogs" were a species of animal. He wrote, "I posit that Mitt Romney believes hot dogs are made from the meat of actual animals called hot dogs. They're like weird long maroon cows."
And some couldn't resist tying his meat ranking to a revelation that dogged (pun alert) Romney throughout his 2012 presidential campaign. During a 1983 road trip with his wife and five sons, Romney strapped a dog cage to the top of their station wagon and the family's Irish setter, Seamus, rode for 12 hours up there. Dog lovers and pet-friendly people generally derided Romney for this move.
Writer Dennis DiClaudio tweeted "Mitt Romney travels with hotdogs strapped to the roof of his car."
And HuffPost's Ashley Feinberg wrote simply that "tbh mitt romney [sic] should probably avoid bringing up dogs in general."
It's doubtful that Romney expected his offhand comment about the superiority of hot dogs to generate this kind of media buzz. But with the Senate race in Utah all but guaranteed to go his way, Friday's press attention probably won't do any lasting damage to his political aspirations.